The Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra sports a futuristic look, a sustainability focus, a high price tag, and intriguing performance. Let’s dig in and figure out if the Wave Neo Ultra may be Mizuno’s best running shoe yet.
Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra
Release Date: September 15, 2022
Drop: 8mm (31mm forefoot, 39mm heel)
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra is a very well-rounded daily training shoe with excellent fit and feel that’s priced a bit too high.
- Collar Height
- Where it Fits in the Rotation
Drew: The Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra includes a buffet of Mizuno’s best foams. Mizuno Enerzy Core, Mizuno Enerzy Lite (a bio-based version using Caster Bean Oil), and Mizuno Enerzy. Mizuno Enerzy Core is the firmest of the three and easy to spot as it’s the EVA foam surrounding the outsole. Mizuno Enerzy Lite is the bubbly foam that makes up most of the visible midsole, while the Enerzy is included as a drop-in insert almost directly underneath the foot (you can see it through a cut-out in the outsole).
But throwing all the foams in the world onto a shoe won’t make it feel good underfoot. The way the three foams work together is very smooth. A nice plush feeling upon landing, a firmer roll from the heel to the forefoot, and a responsive toe-off. It’s not the softest shoe, but the cushion offers enough impact protection while still turning over quite nicely. And while all that cushioning comes with a weight cost, it didn’t feel like I was dragging extra pounds on my runs. The end result is a shoe that feels fantastic underfoot.
Tyler: When you hear cushion, you think underfoot, but for me, the Neo Ultra is one of the best all-around cushioned shoes I’ve worn in a long time. From the upper (which we’ll get to) to the midsole, my entire foot felt safe, secure, and extremely protected during each run. For any Nike fans, this gave me serious Vomero 12 & 13 vibes. Additionally, I think the underfoot cushion is executed perfectly, and no matter whether you’re a forefoot or heel striker, there’s plenty of Enerzy foam to ensure a soft and smooth landing.
Drew: Look at the thick ring-like nubs on these bad boys! Mizuno prioritizes outsoles that last a long time, and the Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra is no exception. I see a little bit of wear after 40ish miles, but it’s super light. All the rings are intact with 100s of miles left. The durability is impressive. And the traction is super solid too. The Wave Neo Ultra could easily handle some road-to-trail work. And wet conditions don’t pose a problem. This outsole powers right through slippery areas.
Tyler: Drew calls them “ring-like nubs” and I call them octopus grip, but either way, it’s a winner. Some humid, early-morning miles usually result in slick surfaces in my neighborhood, and the Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra had no issues at all. Having said that, I have seen a bit more wear on the exposed foam than I had anticipated, but nothing of concern.
Drew: The Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra’s knit upper is comfortable and molds to your foot over time. And the laces actually do something, so those with more narrow feet can easily tighten the upper without it becoming too disfigured. As with most Mizuno models, most wide-footers should find these have sufficient room to splay those toes. And, despite not having a traditional heel counter, my heel got plenty of lockdown and didn’t move around or slip on tight turns. The fuse sidewalls at the rear help, but I also give credit to the geometry of the upper. It just fits feet well.
Tyler: I’d agree with Drew that the upper fits like a glove that continues to mold to your foot. Initial miles had me wondering if I could go down a half-size, but I think the upper really felt dialed in after 16-20 miles, and since then, I haven’t thought twice about it. Coming from someone who isn’t a fan of sock-like uppers as much as I used to be, I have to say that this one worked well and caused no irritation on my ankle or Achilles.
Drew: Let’s face it, the Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra is overpriced. I imagine it’s because of Mizuno’s sustainability efforts and new bio-based foams…but $250 is high-end carbon-plated marathon racing shoe territory. While it’s a fun shoe with a good ride, I just can’t see many people buying it until it goes on sale. I’m not sure what the price point for a sustainable daily trainer should be, but I doubt it’s this high.
Tyler: When I saw the spec sheet at $250, I assumed this was a plated racer that would fall in line with other shoes in this price range, but I was wrong, and I think this price is wrong. While the Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra is a great shoe with a captivating story in its sustainability efforts, I’d agree with Drew that even at $200, this shoe won’t get picked up by as many runners as it might deserve.
Drew: The collar height of the Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra didn’t bug me, but I’ve reviewed enough shoes to know that it will annoy some of our readers. The almost mid-cut will hit some of them on the sides of the ankle and may even cause some chafing for those prone to it. My Bombas Performance Running Socks covered the collar completely, so I was protected. Those who wear socks without blister tabs may need something higher for runs in the Wave Neo Ultra.
That said, the collar isn’t rough, and the Achilles collar flares away from the foot. I typically prefer something a little lower cut too, but this is one of the better implementations of the higher running shoe cut. Plus, I’m guessing the extra material helps the knit build keep the wearer locked down in a much better way.
Where it Fits in the Rotation
Tyler: After a handful of miles, I’m still unsure how to treat this shoe. I’ve generally used it for relaxed days when I’m craving a little more protection from my shoes. But, even that leaves me wondering if I’m using it right. Other days, I’ve picked up the pace and thoroughly enjoyed it. I guess I’ll keep trying it out until it clicks for me, but right now, it sits in the section of my closet with the other “island of misfit shoes” that aren’t designated for a specific type of run.
Drew: Tyler’s take is accurate. The Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra is a tweener.
Tyler: Drew mentioned it above, but the weight does add up when you layer three types of Enerzy foam. I surely felt the extra weight on a few runs. During my initial 8-mile run, I had come off of a 3-day stint, and my legs were feeling it. The Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra wasn’t as accommodating as I had hoped, and the last mile felt like I was running with bricks on my feet. Deal breaker? No, but not a shoe that I would turn to if my legs were already tired from racking up miles.
Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra Summary
Drew: The Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra is a very well-rounded daily training shoe that’s priced too high. Right now, it’s my favorite Mizuno running shoe to-date. I just wish the price was a little lower so more people could experience it.
Tyler: Like other Mizuno shoes we’ve tested this year, it’s a good shoe. If you’re a Mizuno loyalist, I think you’ll find it to be a great shoe with a familiar ride – on steroids. The price is wrong, and while I’m struggling to find where it sits in my rotation, I’ve had more good runs than bad and absolutely love the fit and feel.
- Collar Height
- Where it Fits in the Rotation